When millennials buy houses, it’s for an unexpected reason.
According to a new study by Harris Poll, commissioned by SunTrust Mortgage, one of the top reasons millennials—here defined as those between the ages of 18 and 36—choose to settle down is due to their dogs. That’s right: Thirty three percent of participants cited the need for more space for their furry friends as the leading factor behind purchasing a house. That number may fall behind their own need for more space (66 percent), and the desire to build equity (36 percent), but it’s surprisingly ahead of both marriage (25 percent), and the birth of a child (19 percent).
You know, priorities.
To arrive at this conclusion, SunTrust polled 412 people—248 of whom were first-time home owners—from across the United States. Of the total, 135 had never purchased a home before.
Interestingly, 42 percent of that latter group also said that their dogs would be a major decision driver behind buying a home in the future. This means that no matter what your home-owning experience is, it’s pretty clear that dogs (or the potential of one day owning a dog) play a key role in real estate decisions.
Another slightly unexpected finding from the study? The fact that millennials seem to be buying more homes at all, when previous evidence seemed to point to the contrary. SunTrust Mortgage president and CEO Dorinda Smith believes this trend will only continue in the future.
“Millennials are trending toward homeownership. Demand among millennial-aged first time homebuyers is robust, and we expect them to continue adding strength to the housing market,” she says.
While we might think the fact that people’s pets are more of a factor in relation to home buying than other major life events—like getting married or having children—is a little bizarre, Smith is less surprised.
“Millennials have strong bonds with their dogs, so it makes sense that their furry family members are driving home buying decisions. For those with dogs, renting can be more expensive and a hassle; home ownership takes some of the stress off by providing a better living situation,” says Smith.
In all fairness, anyone who’s ever had to wake up at 5 am to take his or her dog for a walk—because a tiny city apartment doesn’t come with a backyard—understands firsthand the struggle of renting with a pet. Here’s to more space, and later wake up calls.